Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Four Low-Cost Web Site Analytics Services

Everyone who's anyone has a Web site these days, and that goes doubly for businesses. However, it isn't enough to simply have a good site — you have to understand what about your site is successful, and what is not. This makes understanding user traffic patterns to, on, and away from your site critical for its success.

Web site analytics services can show you how effective your Web site is and allow you to quantify how much it is helping your business. For example, if you're running an e-commerce site, you need to know which products are viewed and how far through the purchasing process each customer advances. It's also important to know the effectiveness of e-mail marketing campaigns and how many of your customers are repeat customers.

Four Analytics Services

•  Introduction

•  Google Analytics

•  IndexTools 8.5

•  nextSTAT 4.0

•  VisiStat 3.0

•  Are Cookies A Problem?

Similarly, if you're running a content-heavy site that relies on ad revenue, you need to know how many unique visitors there are and how many pages each visitor views. You'll also want to monitor which topics keep readers' attention longer and understand click-stream patterns so you can provide visitors with the content they want, organized in a way that makes sense.

The products reviewed here — Google Analytics, Index Tools E-Business 8.5, nextSTAT 4.0 Standard Edition, and VisiStat 3.0 — are all good (and, at under $60/month, inexpensive) solutions for a small business that wants to get into Web site analytics. One key way in which they differ is the frequency with which visitor data refreshes. Google Analytics updates approximately every six hours, while Index Tools and VisiStat collect and display data instantly. Some, like VisiStat, are very easy to use, whereas Google Analytics is somewhat more complex and powerful. All four of the services reviewed here rely on snippets of JavaScript placed on each page to track users.

If, by the way, you find that these products don't offer the kind of functionality you need for your professional site, you probably need to look at the next tier. These services, which include Omniture SiteCatalyst and WebSideStory HBX Analytics, offer such features as custom reporting, custom analyses, and the ability to track custom variables. All include site overlay features and full click-path statistics. The services in this class also offer more integration with other data sources to provide easier and more accurate e-commerce and campaign analytics. And, as you might image, they are also much more expensive.

  • 1